The San Diego company that is developing the 1.6-acre property said the sign would be donated to the nearby Pratt Institute of Fine Arts. But that has some neighborhood residents worried that Pratt will auction it off to wealthy collectors. They strongly suspect that "Wonder Bread", or "Wonder" or "Bread" — or just "W" or "B," for that matter — would be a hot commodity for the growing set of neon industrial art aficionados....Interesting. But what made me want to blog about this NYT article when I saw it in the paper version was a quote that doesn't appear on-line. Between the second and third paragraphs of what I've quoted, there's this quote from Bradburd:
Bill Bradburd, an artist who moved here from San Francisco, said the Wonder Bread sign was really a symbol of a "bait and switch" on the part of city officials. Mr. Bradburd, who lives near the bakery and is a co-chairman of the Jackson Place Community Council, said development was moving at such a fast pace that city officials who had promised to protect the character of Seattle's neighborhoods were instead seizing on the dollars flowing in.
Mr. Bradburd and others on the council want the sign displayed publicly near the site of the bakery. He is at odds with some, though, by proposing the sign be split up, putting "Read" over a local library and perhaps "Wonder" over a new elementary school.
But is the tension over these 11 red letters, each six feet tall, really about the sign?
"These battles over saving something old are proxy battles," said David Brewster, the founder of Town Hall, Seattle's cultural center, who is writing a history of the city since the 1962 World's Fair here. "They are really battles against traffic, although of course gentrification weighs in."
"I think it's part of the rightward movement, at least perceived rightward movement in the country," he said, "where a developer in sheep's clothing turns into a corporate pig."Why take that out? It's the spiffiest quote in an article about the politics of old signage.
These signs must have been considered quite ugly for a long part of their existence. And look at the Wonder Bread sign:
It actually is ugly, especially if you take into account all that metal junk holding it up. It's funny that it's Wonder Bread that symbolizes the rich goodness of the past, when Wonder Bread has traditionally symbolized the sterile blandness of the present.
"Seeing the cookies and bread on the assembly belts, it was a show," said Adrienne Bailey, who grew up near the factory and is now secretary to the Central Area Neighborhood District Council. "It was a smell blocks before you got there. Oh, I have beautiful childhood memories of Twinkies and pies, and a beautiful big red neon sign, all lit up."That reads like a satire, written in the 1960s, about what nostalgia would be like in the future.
Americans used to have memories of mom's homemade pies and now there's the love of the old factory that cranked out processed foods. And, strangely, those who favor the historic preservation of the site paint their opponents as corporate pigs.
IN THE COMMENTS: More ideas for how to break up the Wonder Bread sign to make other signs for other places.